Family tools and a tool gloat…

Just before we left on our trip, my parents came up from Florida to visit in the last week in October.  With them, besides lots of laughs and smiles and good times with the grandkids, they brought me some of my Dad’s tools that had been collecting dust down in the sunshine state.

He decided that since he wasn’t really doing anything with them, he’d rather see them in my shop making sawdust rather than collecting dust.  Who am I to argue with the wisdom of my father?  Especially when besides the fabulous-ness of the power tools he doesn’t use, he brought a collection of old, rusted and nearly forgotten relics of his father and his father.  In fact, we’re pretty sure they’re all from my great-grand father (Herbie of the famous hammer repair a while ago) that were passed on to Dad’s dad.  Now they have fallen into my hands.

So here goes, my first ever tool gloat (bear with me, I won’t get to do this often).  Here’s what just found a new home in Wisconsin:

  • Delta belt sander with wheel
  • DeWalt random orbital sander
  • Craftsman 16″ scrollsaw
  • a vintage Black and Decker router (from the ’70s!) 

I think the router is my favorite because it was used to create the toybox Dad made for me when I was 2 years old, that I rehabbed (with his help) and presented to my son last year—yes, we still have it and it is sturdy as ever!   There is something I just can’t fit in to the confines of mere words when I pick up that router, turn it on and feel it kick in my hands before chewing through some wood and leaving a smooth, glass-like finish.  It’s just…awesome.  And way too much fun.

Okay, so here’s part two—the old tools.  This is what the post is really about.  I’m seeking opinions and will likely post in the forums on Lumberjocks about these tools but I figured I’d do it here first.

Here’s a picture of what he brought, spread out on the bench:

From left to right: a hammer head (surface rust, but no real pitting…this is begging for a new handle), a small hammer (ball peen, say, for a blacksmith?  Herbie was a blacksmith…), a wide chisel (the handle is practically so light it feels like balsa wood, it’s got to be dry rotted), a pair of pincers of some kind (Dad thought they may have been for horses since he grew up on a farm, but they also look like blacksmith’s tongs to me…only…I thought those were, um, a lot bigger), some kind of large nail or spike, another chisel without a handle.

In fact, I thought the last item on the right was simply another spike or punch or set like the one immediately to the left is (I think), but on closer review…

It has something inside it…and that something, I’m betting is wood.  Then I examined the rest of it closely:

That’s no punch…that’s a really blunted and abused chisel with some rust and pitting.

So…here’s where my research begins:

(1) What are the tools I can’t really identify (the tongs/pincers, that punch thing, the odd hammers).

(2) Can I, or is it worth it to clean these tools and actually use them (I would looooove to turn these things into users).  As a corollary, if I were to successfully remove the rust from these tools, would that in some way weaken them?  I guess the real question is, is it worth the effort to rehab these (that little chisel is pretty well round, not sharp) or just put them in a shadow box and display them on the wall?   I would so love to use these things but if I don’t have the tools necessary to fix them in the first place…I’m just not sure where to start.

Oh Gooooogle….


About Steven M. Vaught

A native son of Delaware, now living in Illinois, Steven is a writer, family historian, amateur astronomer, sometimes-gardener, woodworker, father to three wonderful children, husband to a wonderful wife, and caretaker of one cheeky vizsla.
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One Response to Family tools and a tool gloat…


    Ball Pein Hammer

    Normally used by engineer’s, the ball pein hammer is rounded and is usually used for shaping metal and closing rivets. Ball pein hammers are available from 4 to 32 ounces. The most often used ball pein hammers are in the 8 to 12 ounce range, as they are most suited for general work. The handles are normally wood,usually either Ash or Hickory. TEKTON 3081 8-oz. Fiberglass Ball Pein Hammer I think the pliers you show are an old hog-ring plier, used originally to insert and close the ring in hog’s noses, but more widly used now for closing chain link fence rings etc. I also have a few old tools from my day – mortise guage, curved handle monkey wrenches – I treasure them, but also use them.


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